Teow Lim Goh, author of the forthcoming chapbook Faraway Places, shares her current reading list.
Over the past year, I’ve read almost all of Eduardo Galeano’s work that has been translated into English. He distills history, politics, memory, philosophy, soccer, dreams, and so much more into vignettes that he then weaves into the tapestries that are his books. His Memory of Fire trilogy recounts 500 years of colonialism in the Americas through the voices of the conquered. His work is rooted in reportage and rises to the lyricism of poetry.
On the poetry side, I just finished reading my teacher and friend Aaron Abeyta’s Letters to the Headwaters and Colcha. His work is deeply rooted in his native San Luis Valley in southern Colorado, a region that was once a part of Mexico, and he writes of its beauty and heartbreak with great intimacy. The mountains here are named after blood indeed.
I also recently fell in love with Anna Maria Hong’s Age of Glass. Hong rewrites fairy tales in a series of sonnets, but these are not stories in verse; she deconstructs language and form to create spectacles of images and sound. I’m sure I’ll keep going back to this collection to decipher its secrets.
Faraway Places resides in the spaces between the wild and the tamed, from orchid gardens and immense seas to caged birds and high alpine landscapes. It resists narrative and instead inhabits the residues of experience. It may be a private dictionary: “Those / who know the lore can use them / to find their way / in the world.” Haunted and searching, these poems navigate the distances between light and shadow, secrets and silence.
Teow Lim Goh is the author of Islanders (2016), a volume of poems on the history of Chinese exclusion at the Angel Island Immigration Station. Her work has been featured in Tin House, Catapult, PBS NewsHour, Colorado Public Radio, and The New Yorker.